By April Wilson, Senior Staff Writer
I’ve heard many times that life as we know it will drastically change or end due to some worldwide catastrophic event. Y2K in 2000 was the first hype, then last year someone decided Christ’s return was imminent and upon us, and now at the end of 2012 the Mayan calendar supposedly predicts the end of the world. I don’t think so. The previous two non-events taught me people really don’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to the world “ending.”
History is filled with failed doomsday predictions. Nostradamus, a 16th century French seer, predicted that the world would end in 1999. In 1844, Baptist Minister William Miller convinced a large group of people that the world would end on October 22 of that year. When that didn’t happen, the Millerites labeled the incident “The Great Disappointment.”
Y2K was supposed to be a catastrophic computer meltdown causing chaos and widespread destruction due to a glitch in computers. This would cause power grids to fail and consequently ruin life as we know it. Oddly enough, that didn’t happen either.
Some predictors of the end are more predatory. For example, preacher Harold Camping told the world that Christ was returning May 21, 2011. He had followers that were documented by the media as having quit their jobs and given their savings to his Family Radio Ministry. When his prediction didn’t come to fruition, he changed the date to Oct. 21 and refused to return their money saying they “donated it of their own free will.”
As for the predictions about the Mayan calendar predicting the end, people are likely misreading what is left of the once great civilization.
The NASA website says, “Most of the Mayan calendar intervals accumulate as multiples of 20. An interval of 7,200 days (360 × 20) was known as a katun. It takes 20 katuns to complete a baktun (20 × 7,200 = 144,000 days). Although some ancient inscriptions turn 13 baktuns into an important reset milestone, others imply that the calendar simply keeps running.”
However, what it means for the 13th baktun to end is a subject of debate among Mayan scholars. Though most seem to ascribe to the idea that it is just a new age beginning and nothing world ending will occur.
The idea that the Mayan calendar predicted imminent doom came from author Frank Waters. In 1975 he identified the 13-baktun interval as a “Mayan Great Cycle,” overestimated its duration as 5,200 years and equated five such cycles with five legendary eras, each of which ends in the world’s destruction and rebirth. “There is no genuine Mayan tradition behind any of this,” says the NASA website.
So really, nothing is going to happen on Dec. 21, 2012. We will all wake up on Dec. 22 and add the supposed Mayan apocalypse to the list of failed world-ending, earth-shattering, not really happening, predictions.